Romanik faces hearing, potential shutdown of radio stations

Romanik faces hearing, potential shutdown of radio stations

Controversial radio host Bob Romanik has less than three weeks to respond to a recent order to appear at a hearing held by the FCC in regard to allegedly running and programming multiple broadcast radio stations as a convicted felon.

According to a statement released Wednesday by the FCC’s Media Bureau, the commission is hosting a hearing for Romanik and his broadcasting company, Entertainment Media Trust (EMT in the official statement), also known as Insane Broadcasting Company on KQQZ AM’s website, to determine whether the company has violated any rules held by the commission. The hearing was scheduled after a seven-year investigation concluded that Romanik allegedly created the EMT brand, provided funds to purchase four radio stations (KFTK-AM, WQQQ-AM, KZQZ-AM and KQQZ-AM), and ran these stations with the knowledge of having a criminal background as well as being convicted of a felony, which is a violation against the commission’s rules.

According to the release, Katrina Sanders, Romanik’s girlfriend, is the current name that holds EMT’s beneficial interest of the radio stations; and his lawyer, Dennis J. Watkins, is a trustee of the company. However, the host acknowledged himself as the de facto owner of both the stations and company on multiple occasions, even though his name was never documented in the company’s application for a broadcast license.

Romanik, formerly Washington Park’s police chief, was convicted in 1999 for bank fraud and previously pleaded guilty to defrauding the United States and obstructing justice for facilitating an illegal gambling operation in 1998. St. Clair County Chairman Mark Kern filed a complaint in 2012 for the FCC to investigate the ownership of his licenses with these present convictions, and followed up again in 2016. The NorthSider reached out to Kern about the order but has yet to receive a comment.

Aside from the evidence found by the commission in regard to EMT’s violations, Romanik has attracted a significant amount of controversy because of the many racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments made on his right-wing radio show “On the Dark Side” on KQQZ-AM 1190. 

The host made national news with his comments on the Michael Brown police shooting. Romanik also made entertainment news for using racial slurs to describe rapper Waka Flocka multiple times on his show after Flocka damaged a jersey with Donald Trump’s name on it while performing a concert in Athens, Ga.

Niel Grace of the FCC’s media office said, however, that the FCC hearing would specifically focus on Romanik’s misrepresentation of ownership behind his stations’ licenses, instead of the controversial content being broadcasted through them.

If Romanik is found guilty of violating the commission’s rules, this could mean that all four of his stations would cease normal operation. According to Grace, the commission could choose to not renew those licenses, potentially revoking the licenses so Romanik could no longer be authorized to broadcast.

However, this would happen only if the administrative law judge who will conduct the hearing rules that Romanik and EMT violated the commission’s rules. The NorthSider reached out to FCC Administrative Law Judge Jane Hinckley Halprin for questions about the process of Romanik’s hearing but has yet to receive a response.

Halprin  is set to schedule Romanik’s hearing, but neither Romanik nor EMT has released any comments regarding the announcement.